Experts: Here’s how to prioritize your mental health this Christmas

Holiday joy and anticipation can take a toll on the mental health of those who aren’t feeling festive. Anxiety and depression can be directly associated with the Christmas blues among children and adults. Additionally, stress from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could add another layer.

Mental health experts Richard Whitaker and Emily Gordon said that high expectations surrounding the holidays often lead to stress and anxiety. In addition, financial burdens and large gatherings during the holidays tend to affect people.

“Anyone who already has a mental health problem is likely to increase over the holidays,” says Emily Gordon, of Family Resources.

“There is pressure to give gifts, so there is financial drawdown and then there is pressure to attend events if there are complex family dynamics or if there is grief and loss and trauma,” Gordon added.

However, with all these added layers, there are still ways to prioritize mental health while staying playful during this time of year.

“Spending time with other people is just as important, if not more, than buying a gift,” Whitaker said.

Meanwhile, Gordon highlighted the importance of self-care. “It’s really important to take care of yourself when times are especially tough. Do things that will give you some peace — things that help you reset — that will really help,” she said. on the floor and playing with your children.”

If you or a loved one is experiencing a mental health crisis this Christmas, you can call Eastern Iowa Mental Health’s 24-hour crisis line at 844-430-0375.

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